Edmonton could be one step closer to having a gondola crossing the North Saskatchewan River, connecting Old Strathcona to downtown.
The five Idea Den panellists voted on the winner from 10 finalists. The gondola idea was submitted by Edmonton residents Gary and Amber Poliquin, who run local tourism company Big E Tours.
“We’ve done a bunch of travel all over the world and we’ve noticed gondolas in other cities,” Amber Poliquin said.
“Different cities are using them for transportation and we thought it’d be a good fit here in Edmonton with our river valley.”
The gondola would have three stations, located at the Shaw Conference Centre on Jasper Avenue, near RE/MAX baseball field in the river valley, and at the parking lot across from the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market on Gateway Boulevard, north of Whyte Avenue. The gondola system would have 40, eight-person air-conditioned cars.
“The commute will take under 10 minutes from Whyte Ave. to downtown to complete the three-kilometre trip,” Poliquin said.
“We are envisioning ETS passengers would use their pass, other riders would buy a single ticket, we are hoping we can connect with buses, bikes and LRT systems so that we can make a cohesive transit model for our city.”
Watch below: Commuters and tourists in Edmonton may soon have a unique and scenic way to cross the river. Fletcher Kent has more on the River Valley Gondola proposal.
Poliquin said during their research into all the different kinds of gondolas available, they determined a simple bi-cable or a more modern 3S system would be the best fit for Edmonton. “It would depend on the route, if it goes ahead.”
The Poliquins said their idea defines the city because it “shows Edmonton as a proud northern city that is willing to take chances, connecting the fabric of our city with lines through the air.”
The duo behind the gondola idea believe it can be built for between $20 million and $60 million.
“Gondolas are actually perfect for Edmonton because we have that river valley, we have to cross that wide expanse. In terms of either building a bridge or using a gondola, the gondola takes way less infrastructure, so it’s less money to put up to build, less money to operate,” Poliquin explained.
The five people who made up the Idea Den panel were former journalist-turned-communications expert Carrie Doll, 630 CHED host Ryan Jespersen, community organizer Krista Ference, Cheryll Watson with the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation, and University of Alberta alumni association president and entrepreneur Ayaz Bhanji.
Ideas were submitted throughout the fall, and in November, the Idea Den panel created a short list of the Top 10 ideas.
Also among the Top 10 ideas were the world’s largest treehouse, a food truck ferris wheel, a year-round indoor park in a solar powered globe structure, river valley saunas and a European-style Christmas village.
The Edmonton Project is supported by five companies — ATB Financial, Zag Creative marketing firm, accounting experts BDO Canada, architecture firm Kasian, and EllisDon construction company — as well as the city.
Edmonton city council will now take a look at the gondola idea to see if it is something that could go ahead.
WATCH: Dec. 1, 2017: After receiving hundreds of submissions, the Edmonton Project came up with the best 10 ideas. Sarah Kraus reports.